Branch Royal Thai Army
Garrison/HQ Bangkok, Thailand
The 1st Division, King's Guard (Thai: กองพลที่ 1 รักษาพระองค์) (พล.๑ รอ.) is an infantry division of the Royal Thai Army, it is currently a part of the First Army Area. The division was founded by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1905. In 1973 the division was designated a King's Guard unit by royal command of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX).
The division comprises three infantry regiments and four attachment units, the 1st Infantry Regiment, King's Own Bodyguard, the 11th Infantry Regiment, King's Guard and the 31st Infantry Regiment, King's Guard. The division and its subsidiary units are mostly based in or around Bangkok, Thailand. The 31st Regiment is garrisoned in Lopburi.
The division was formed in 1905 by the command of King Chulalongkorn on the recommendation of the Prince Chirapravati Voradej, the director of operations of the Ministry of Defence. The Prince wanted to organise the Siamese army on European lines, comprising at least ten army divisions. By 1906 the 1st Division was fully recruited and was garrisoned in Bangkok. In 1908, the army was once again reorganised, by this date the division was made up of five units (1st Infantry Regiment, King's Own Bodyguard, 2nd Infantry Regiment (the name later changed to 11th Infantry), 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Artillery Battery and the 1st Engineer Regiment). The 1st Division was then given the responsibility of protecting the king, his Grand Palace, the royal capital and the surrounding Menam basin.
In the early hours of 24 June 1932, a revolution broke out in Bangkok. The Khana Ratsadon (a group of disgruntled military officers and civilians) staged a coup d'état to replace the absolute rule of King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) with a constitutional monarchy. The conspirators began by arresting key military personnel in the capital, including the Commander of the 1st Infantry Division; Phraya Saena Sonogram (Mom Rajawongse Ei Noppawong) at his private residence. A scuffle ensued and the resisting commander was shot and wounded by an unnamed Lieutenant. Sometimes later a Major Luang Kraichingrit (Puth Vinitchaikul) of the King's Own Bodyguards ordered a company of troops towards the Makawan bridge to resist the coup, however by that time the revolution was a fait accompli and the troops were ordered to returned to their barracks. Except for this one incidence of violence, the revolution was carried out smoothly without further bloodshed. The King complied with the Khana Ratsadon's demands and Siam was granted its first Constitution in December of the same year. As a result of the coup the new administration temporarily dissolved all formations above battalion level, including the 1st Infantry Division.
During the Franco-Thai War of 1940-1941, the division's former components was incorporated into the Burapha Army (Eastern army) on the orders of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram. The division took part in the army's objectives of retaking the French Indochinese provinces of Sisophon and Battambang (now in modern-day Cambodia). After this brief conflict the Burapha Army formation was disbanded and the 1st Infantry Division was once again constituted in 1942.
In 1948 the division moved into a permanent headquarters next to the Suan Kularb Mansion of the Dusit Palace. In 1956 the Royal Thai Army was reorganised and the 1st Infantry Division was put under the command of the First Army Area. In 1958 the division, in full, took part in the Royal guards parade to celebrate the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Since that year, the division have taken part in the organizing and performing of the ceremony until the present day. On the 2 April 1973, the 1st Infantry Division was designated a King's Guard unit by royal command and changed its name to '1st Division, King's Guard', the first of its kind.